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Aromatherapy and the Workplace - Part 1

Can Aromatherapy help in the office, retail shops or other commercial areas?

Aromatherapy in the Office

Is there evidence and is it worthwhile? The answer to these questions is Yes - and the amount of empirical evidence grows steadily.  The Japanese, who have for many years recognised the need for spiritual and mental well-being as well as the physical, regularly use essential oils - and thereby aromatherapy - to stimulate and energise the workplace: 

"Shimizu, the third biggest construction company in the country, places diffusers in the air conditioning ducts of the buildings that it constructs. It also suggests which essences to use according to the type of building. For example, anti-stress for offices, anti-bacteria for hospitals, and relaxing essences for train stations. Shimuzu's faith in the perfuming of the workplace with aromatherapy essential oils is justified by the results of research carried out by Takasago, Japan's biggest producer of fragrances. The research show that people working with computers made 54% few typing errors when the workplace was scented with lemon, 33% fewer with jasmine, and 20% fewer with lavender"

It is a well known fact that stress and burnout in the workplace is a serious and continuing problem and many companies are looking for solutions. Job pressure demands, lack of sunshine, computers, chemicals and harsh lighting are just some of the factors that can contribute to increased stress for workers. Stress can have a detrimental impact on employee's productivity. By taking a natural approach to reducing stress, employees can improve the comfort level of their workplace and thereby improve their effectiveness and productivity. They will think more clearly and positively and generally feel better. Symptoms of stress in the workplace include excessive sick days, headaches, lethargy, loss of sense of humour, irritability and depression. Other symptoms include making errors, having difficulty concentrating, and feeling defensive or angry inside. Essential oils can help you cope and calm you down, and can enhance productivity.

Employers are continually looking for ways to enhance their employee's health and well being. Companies spend millions of dollars each year for lost revenue due to absenteeism, lack of productivity due to illness and in an increasing number of cases for health insurance. The most common symptoms described by employees working in air-conditioned offices are lethargy, stuffy noses, dry throats and headaches. People who work in offices with sophisticated air delivery systems tend to have more colds, coughs and sore throats. This is also true of travelling on aeroplanes. When colds and flu are rife, essential oils can help to stop the spread from employee to employee.

Aromatherapy can also help in other fields. Retail shops and outlets, hotel rooms, lifts (elevators) and lobbies, cruise ships, hospitals and even, as was discovered in New York, on Underground Railway systems. Aromatherapy can be used to help nurture the "feelgood" factor to stimulate activity as much as it is used to promote an atmosphere of relaxed calm.

Another issue is that of "sick building syndrome" and can be caused by, inter alia, dust extractors, carpet-cleaning fluids, chemicals used in furniture and veneers, and poorly maintained photocopiers which emit ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Symptoms that you can experience are itchy skin, rashes, nosebleeds, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Because essential oils are anti-bacterial and some are anti-fungal and anti-viral, they can help to combat bacteria and viruses and improve the air

Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. Not only does the aroma of the natural essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but the constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) of the essential oil are drawn into the lungs and can also supply physical benefit. Aromatherapy can help with a physical condition, can help with symptoms, can affect people's moods, or help alleviate or temporarily eliminate stress or other psychological factors